Burke: It Is ridiculous

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is angered over statements being made by government ministers following the decision taken by the government of Australia to withdraw the financial support pledged for the construction of a new Parliament Building for the island.

Both Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and his Works Minister, Gregory Bowen have publicly accused the NDC of rejoicing over the withdrawal of funds from the Australians.

However, the NDC political Leader, Senator Nazim Burke is not taking too kindly to those accusations.

“Nothing could be more ridiculous that NDC is happy,” Sen. Burke retorted.

The NDC political Leader who was speaking on the party’s weekly radio program “NDC Heartbeat” reminded the host of the program that former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas who is committed to democracy and democratic institutions saw the need to have the Parliament Building constructed and was able to secure financial support for the project from the Australians.

The Australian Government is said to have played a major role in getting the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to partner with it in agreeing to co-finance the project.

Sen. Burke who served as Finance Minister in the NDC government between July 2008 and February 2013 indicated that 26 submissions came from architects around the region for the project and seven of them were shortlisted.

A number of Australian experts also came to Grenada to work along with the former Chief Technical Officer in the Ministry of Works, Cecil Harris to select the top bidder.

According to Sen. Burke the actual physical works for the Parliament building were scheduled to commence within 90 days as everything was set to go.

The Mitchell government has stated publicly that the withdrawal of funds from Australia is as a result of a decision taken to cut the aid budget to the Caribbean and Latin America region.

Sen. Burke said that as he understands it, Australia has cut their aid budget for the Caribbean from $11.2M to $8.2M.

“From what we are seeing only Grenada’s project was cut, and the Australians made it quite clear that they were very impressedwith Mr. Cecil Harris,’’ he said.

According to Sen. Burke, the Australian Government wanted Harris who has now taken up a position in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to be the project manager.

“To turn around and say that we (the NDC) are happy about it, it just seems so ludicrous,’’ the NDC Political Leader stated.

The building that was being used as the Houses of Parliament on Church Street, St. George’s was badly damaged by hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

The Grenada Trade Center building at Morne Rouge in Grand Anse has been used to facilitate sittings of Parliament for the past 10 years.

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